Polish Diaspora (Polonia) Worldwide

We have already series of articles about history and geographical distribution of Polish immigration (Polonia) in the USA. I apologize to all people of Polish origin who live outside the USA that until now I did not post any review of Polish immigration in other countries. I know that among our readers we have people of Polish origin from Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Germany and probably much more other countries.

Let me start with a short introduction to Polish immigration around the world. We can divide Polonia abroad into two different groups - these who left Poland more or less voluntarily: sometimes because of the hopeless economical situation, sometimes because of the political persecution. Our immigration to Americas, Western Europe and Australia is of this kind.

There are also quite numerous groups of Poles who were living on the "wrong" side of the boarder before WW II - and after the war ended up in Soviet Union. Now these people live still in today Lithuania, Belarus or Ukraine. Some people who live in Russia are the descendants of Poles who were sent to Siberia under Russian partition from 1773 to 1918. There are also a numerous groups of Poles who were sent to Siberia or Kazakhstan during the WW II when Soviet Union invaded a big part of Poland two weeks after Germany started a war on September 17th, 1939 in an effect of a secret part of Ribbentropp-Molotov treaty. It is very hard until now to calculate the exact number of peoples who were sent to the East, the numbers are estimated into millions. Many of these people perished forever. Some were able to return to Poland, some could not and stayed in Russia, mainly Siberia and Kazakhstan.

There are also some Poles who are living in today Czech Republic and Slovakia, mainly mountaineers. Some parts of Spisz and Orava were difficult to divide between Poland and Czechoslovakia because the villages were ethnically very mixed. Polish settlements reach even Romania (the region of Suchava) and Turkey (Adampol).

Now, a bit of statistics:

About 20 million people count the Polish Diaspora. It is almost 50% of the total amount of Poles who live in Poland. Poles live in over 90 countries of the world.

Here are the estimated numbers:

USA 10 millions
Germany 1.6 million
Brazil 1 million
France 1 million
Canada 650,000
Belarus 600,000
Ukraine 300,000
Lithuania 300,000
Australia 200,000
Argentina 180,000
Great Britain 170,000
Russia 150,000
Kazakhstan 100,000
Sweden 100,000
Czech Republic 70,000
Latvia 70,000
Belgium 65,000
Austria 45,000
South Africa 35,000
Italy 35.000
Netherlands 16.000
Denmark 13.000
Switzerland 10.000
Hungary 10.000
Norway 6.000
New Zealand 6.000
Romania 5.000
Turkmenistan 5.000
Slovakia 5.000
Urugway 4.000
Ex-Yugoslavia 3.000

About 2,000 Poles live in Israel, Finland, U.A.Emirates, Greece, Spain, Chili, Mexico, Luxembourg and Georgia.
About 1,000 Poles live in Moldavia, Estonia, Turkey, Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela, Bulgaria, Portugal and Ireland.

(These data were published in "Nasz Dziennik", 20.10.2002).

In the future articles I will concentrate on the origin and distribution of immigration in different countries and regions. Read here the first part about Centers of Polish Immigration in the World - USA and Germany .

written by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn, 4 February 2003 (article #79)


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